Regina Lyric Musical Theatre is celebrating its 45th anniversary.
They put together a sapphire gala at Atlas Hotel Thursday night that was full of music and laughter along with performances reprising their unforgettable songs from the last four decades
“We are celebrating 45 years of Lyric and we are doing this gala – its a concert with appetizers and so on,” said Jane Ursan, who performed her first show with Lyric back in 1979.
“We’re very lucky that we still have a lot of performers in Regina that keep coming back to Lyric. They enjoy the comradery and the friendships they’ve made, so it’s amazing that they’re coming back.”
Regina Lyric Theatre has done 116 shows over the years, including musicals, fundraising concerts, choirs and more.
For this 45th anniversary, they performed songs they debuted in their very first show back in 1978 along with ones from the most recent show in May. Eighteen performers, most of whom worked in past shows, came back to relive the iconic moments.
“Lyric gives people an opportunity. Amateur means people who do things for the love of it – amateur theatre is just that. It has nothing to do with the quality of performances, everything to do with the fact that people are doing it because they love it not necessarily because they’re getting paid for it,” said Ed Willet, past performer and director at Regina Lyric Theatre.
Regina Lyric is a community organization that’s been growing over the years and has supported people from all walks of life, many of whom have gone on to have phenomenal careers.
“We had people like Paul Nolan, Broadway performer (and) Dian Taylor, well-known jazz singer – started together in a show called Macato back in the ’90s. Zack Smadu, who’s the star of Family Law, a Global Television show – he did several shows in the ’90s and early, 2000s. So we’ve had a lot of people come through our doors,” Jane said.
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Rob Ursan has also been involved with Lyric from the beginning and he says the theatre provides a creative outlet to people with regular jobs like teachers, writers, executives who may not be in the show business but enjoy taking on different characters on stage.
“The ability of theater to tell stories and for people to leave whatever problems they have at the door before they enter the rehearsal hall and suddenly take on another personality,” Rob said. “It’s not just about the shows, but being able to sing is such an incredible thing for your soul. It does so much for your heart to just be able to just sing off tune.”
Willet said he met his wife at Regina Lyric, and their daughter went on to perform at the theatre over the years.
“I was asked to be on the board of Lyric and at the same time, Margaret was also asked to be on the board. We were also both in the musical, so I guess I saw her at rehearsal, but we didn’t really interact.”
He said that they got to know each other on the board at Lyric initially and then he moved to a house closer to Margaret so they started driving to the board meetings together and got to know each other better.
“At some point, I asked her out and she said yes. And then it took a while, but eventually, she said yes when I asked her to marry me as well. And we’ve been married for 25 years.”
Willet said he started performing quite early, at the age of 11. When he did his first performance he said he discovered how much he loved being on stage. He says he is a writer professionally and theatre is his passion.
“I think it ties into my being an author as well. It’s all about putting yourself into the head of somebody else and living vicariously through them, either through the words that I put on the page, I’m creating a character. If I’m on stage, I’m creating a character – it takes you out of your everyday world and put you into some different life, and it’s an opportunity then to use whatever talents you might have.”
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